Iowa football wide receiver Keagan Johnson to enter transfer portal

The sophomore wideout only played two games for the Hawkeyes this season because of multiple injuries.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa wide receiver Keagan Johnson warms up before a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Johnson was out for a majority of the season due to injury.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa football wide receiver Keagan Johnson announced on Twitter Thursday that he will enter the transfer portal.

Johnson, who played for the Hawkeyes in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. He played fewer than four games for Iowa this season, so he is eligible to take his redshirt year.

“I would like to thank the University of Iowa, and the Iowa City community for welcoming me with open arms throughout my time here,” Johnson wrote in a statement. “I have made memories that will last forever, and I have created bonds that I will always cherish. With that being said at this time I am announcing that I will enter the transfer portal.”

Johnson enrolled at Iowa as a four-star recruit in the spring 2021 semester. He started nine of the 13 games he played in the 2021 season and missed Iowa’s bowl game because of a non-COVID illness.

He was Iowa’s second-leading receiver with 352 yards on 18 catches in 2021, behind only tight end Sam LaPorta.

The 6-foot-1, 194-pounder was listed as the Hawkeyes’ first-team wide receiver in Iowa’s spring practice and preseason depth charts, but he was hindered by injuries throughout the season.

“He’s had a series of injuries, it’s not just one thing,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said of Johnson on Nov. 1. “Most recently it’s been the hamstring. … Hamstrings are just funny. A lot of bad injuries to have; that might be the worst as far as I can tell. They can be really frustrating.”

Johnson only competed in two games this season. He played in Iowa’s rain-delayed game against Nevada, recording two catches for 11 yards. He also appeared in the last game of the regular season against Nebraska but recorded no statistics.

Following the Nebraska game, Ferentz said Johnson just started practicing the Monday before the contest. With a short week, however, Ferentz said Johnson couldn’t practice as extensively as they wanted.

“Hopefully it’s a step forward right now,” Ferentz said of Johnson’s play on Nov. 25. “It’s the first time he’s had a full week. Doesn’t have much volume for obvious reasons, but it’s encouraging.”

The football transfer portal does not open for undergraduate student-athletes until Dec. 5, but players can announce at any time that they plan to enter. The first portal window following the 2022 football season runs from Dec. 5-Jan. 18, and it will open again for football players from April 15-30, 2023, following spring practice.

Johnson is the third Hawkeye football player to announce his intentions to enter the transfer portal following the 2022 season. Backup quarterback Alex Padilla, who started three games in his four-year Hawkeye career, announced on Tuesday that he entered the portal as a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining. Graduate transfers can enter the portal at any time. Offensive lineman Josh Volk also tweeted he plans to enter the portal on Tuesday.

Five of the Hawkeyes’ nine scholarship wide receivers since 2020, including Johnson, Tyrone Tracy Jr, Charlie Jones, Quavon Matthews, and Desmond Hutson have entered the transfer portal.

Johnson hails from Bellevue, Nebraska, and has ties to the Nebraska football program. His father, Clester Johnson, played for Nebraska from 1991-95 and was part of the Cornhuskers’ 1994 and 1995 national championship teams.

Some people on Twitter have speculated that Johnson will return to his home state. Nebraska hired former Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule as its new head coach on Nov. 25 after it fired Scott Frost on Sept. 11. Nebraska finished the season with a 4-8 record, including a season-ending win over Iowa for the first time since 2014.